Table of Contents
- What is binge eating?
- How to stop the fear of rejection
We've all been there before. We see someone we're attracted to and we want to make a move, swipe right, or even smile, but we're afraid of rejection. So instead of putting ourselves out there, we stay silent and do nothing. We tell ourselves it's no big deal, that there are plenty of other fish in the sea and the timing isn’t right.
Or, we consider interviewing for a new job or making a career move that will be advantageous. Then we worry about whether we will measure up or if we’re as good as other candidates, and ultimately we decide not to bother applying for the position.
Let’s face it, rejection hurts—a lot.
The fear of rejection is a very real and very common feeling. It's estimated that as many as 50% of people suffer from some form of social anxiety, and a large number of those individuals also suffer from the fear of rejection.
When we're faced with the prospect of rejection, our natural instinct is to retreat and protect ourselves. For some of us, that means turning to food for comfort, often to the point of binge eating. When we’re bingeing, we don't feel the pain of being rejected.
What is binge eating?
Binge eating is defined as “eating an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time.” When this happens on a regular basis and also causes deep shame and distress, it impacts your self-esteem. Binge eating is about using food as a way to cope with painful, upsetting, difficult emotions such as the fear of rejection.
We often turn to binge eating in an attempt to soothe our emotions and make ourselves feel better. After all, people can be unpredictable, unavailable, and unreliable. Food is predictable, available and reliable. Food will never reject us. However, bingeing only provides temporary relief and ultimately makes us feel worse both physically and emotionally.
Binge eating can become a vicious cycle. The more we fear rejection, the more we turn to food for comfort. And the more we binge eat, the more our self-esteem suffers. We start to believe that we're not good enough, that we don't deserve love or attention. So we retreat even further into our binge eating habits, making it even harder to break free.
If you find yourself turning to food when you're feeling anxious or down, there are a few things you can do to overcome the fear of rejection and break the cycle of binge eating.
How to stop the fear of rejection
What can you do to overcome the fear of rejection? Here are some tips:
Balance rejection and acceptance
Think about the times in your life that you’ve been rejected. Yes, it was terrible and you may cringe just thinking about it. Then consider your successes. Was your greatest success worth the greatest rejection you’ve suffered? Of course it was. Think about the qualities that made you successful.
Rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good enough: When we fear being rejected we often think we’re “rejectable” and that there is something about us that isn’t good enough. We fear we won’t fit in or that we won’t be smart enough, articulate enough, attractive enough, or that we won’t do a job well enough. Look for evidence that you are likable, lovable, competent, and enough.
Heal the past
Most of us have experienced the feeling of being rejected at some point in our lives. Whether it was being passed over for a job, not being invited to a party, or being dumped by a significant other, rejection is never fun. We fear rejection because we’ve experienced rejection in the past and it left us hypervigilant about feeling rejected again. That’s because we made some meaning out of the rejection. Challenge that meaning (often, it’s something along the lines of not being good enough or being too much) and make peace with the past.
Talk kindly to yourself and give yourself grace for being anxious or worried about what other people might think of you. You’re only human and you’ve got lots of company. Remember that fears are not facts, and focus on the qualities about yourself that you know are awesome.
Give yourself an opportunity to be wrong
Unless you work for the Psychic Network (and even if you do) you may not be so great at predicting future outcomes. Even if you’re quite sure you’re about to be rejected, you may be wrong. Instead of assuming you what’s going to happen, take the leap. There’s always a chance of rejection, but there’s also a chance of acceptance.
It's perfectly normal to feel nervous about the prospect of rejection. After all, nobody likes to be told that they're not good enough. However, it's important to remember that rejection is a part of life, and it doesn’t reflect your good enoughness. The key is to focus on your own self-worth, and to remember that not everyone will like or appreciate us. That's okay! You don't need everyone's approval to be happy and successful. Instead, focus on finding the people who do appreciate you, and on building strong relationships with them. With time, you'll find that rejection becomes less and less of a big deal.
Rejection is never easy to deal with, but for some of us, the fear of rejection can be so strong that it leads to binge eating. If this is something you struggle with, there are steps you can take to overcome your fear and break the cycle of binge eating.
If you're struggling with the fear of rejection and binge eating, know that you're not alone. Overcoming anything takes time and effort, but it is possible to do so with perseverance and support, from yourself and others.
Where can I get support for binge eating?
One way to get support is to join my Facebook community where you can meet lots of people who are on a path to banishing emotional eating and creating lives of freedom, liberation and self-love.
How can I get over my social anxiety?
It's normal to feel anxious around people, especially if you're worried about rejection. However, there are steps you can take to overcome your fears and build healthier relationships with the people in your life. One way to start is by working on your self-esteem. Accepting yourself for who you are can help you feel more confident around others. Additionally, try to focus on the positive aspects of your interactions with others. Instead of fixating on the possibility of rejection, look for moments of connection and joy. Finally, remember that everyone is perfectly imperfect, and that includes the people you're afraid will judge or reject you. Accepting that we all have flaws can help you to relax and be yourself around others. By taking these steps, you can begin to overcome your fears and build healthier, more fulfilling relationships with the people in your life.
How do I get over feeling so isolated?
It can be incredibly difficult to cope with feeling isolated. Bingeing on comfort food is one way of coping, but it ultimately hurts more than it helps. However, there are some things you can do to start feeling better. First, it's important to recognize that isolation is a normal feeling and that everyone experiences it from time to time. Second, try reaching out to friends and family, even if you don't feel like it. Just having a chat (with the right people) can help you feel more connected. When we’re connected with people, we don’t use food to symbolically fill a void. Finally, stay active and engaged with the world around you. Doing things you enjoy can help reduce anxiety and make isolation feel less overwhelming.
Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin is a psychoanalyst, author and radio host specializing in binge eating disorder. She is the author of The Binge Cure: 7 Steps to Outsmart Emotional Eating and Food for Thought: Perspectives on Eating Disorders, and co-editor of Beyond the Primal Addiction. She hosts The Dr. Nina Show radio program on LA Talk Radio.